EDITOR’S COLUMN: Silence the Only Sound Heard as Murders of Black Transgender Women Rise

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Most of my summers during my childhood were spent in Williamsburg, Virginia, where my grandparents, my mom’s parents, along with other relatives all along the Eastern shore, lived. There was one person in particular who always fascinated me — a statuesque, dark-skinned, bejeweled woman who walked like she was floating on air.

As I grew older, I began to notice that this mysterious woman, Georgette, had hands and feet much bigger, and a voice much deeper than those that the other women in my life possessed. In addition, she had extremely broad shoulders — in fact, I had even ridden on them a few times. Still, she had pretty hair, wore pretty dresses and had teeth so white you could turn off the lights and still see your way. Eventually, my grandmother confessed that “Georgette” was actually “George” — a man who dressed and lived as a woman — a man who, as my grandmother explained, felt “trapped” in the wrong body and who desperately wanted to be free. So, we welcomed Georgette into our home, into our lives and into our family, mainly because my grandmother, the family matriarch, demanded it.

Georgette surely had it rough, if not dangerous, back then — during the 1960s and ’70s — when little was known about the challenges facing those now called “transgender.” But it’s different today, right?

Truthfully, it may be ever worse and even more dangerous as violence against transgender people has reached an all-time high. Meanwhile, national media coverage and reports of their murders continue to be either ignored or hidden away on the back pages of newspapers.

In 2016, 27 transgender people were killed in the U.S., almost all being women of color. Some of their identities still remain unknown. Most had no one to ever claim their body — bodies washed up on our shores, deposited in alleys or stuffed in trashcans like undesirable refuse. As a group, transgender people face a greater risk of death by hate violence than any other group in America. What is the Black community doing about these unsolved murders? Why aren’t our leading politicians and preachers demanding greater protection for them and additional resources to solve their deaths? Do we even care?

When I was a little boy, summers were spent visiting my grandparents in Virginia and Alabama where my Daddy’s folks lived. I learned that family meant everything, that everyone was welcome and that everyone mattered — no matter how different they were. Back then I could say, like James Brown, “I’m Black and I’m proud,” with real conviction. Now … I’m not so sure.

I miss those days!!

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About D. Kevin McNeir – Washington Informer Editor 165 Articles

Award-winning journalist, book editor, voice-over specialist and author with 17 years in the industry. Currently an education and religion beat reporter for The Washington Informer. But I also tackle local (D.C. and Maryland) politics, entertainment, business and health articles to maintain my edge.

Born and raised in Motown and a staunch Wolverine – that is a graduate of the University of Michigan, I left corporate America (IBM) to pursue my passion for writing, accepting a beat reporter’s gig under the tutelage of the late Sam Logan, founding publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. I continued to hone my craft at N’DIGO Magapaper, Windy City Times and The Wednesday Journal, all in Chicagoland; the Atlanta Voice and The Miami Times. I’ve been fortunate to be chosen twice as the Feature Writer of the Year by the Chicago Association of Black Journalists. Later, as the senior editor of one of the country’s oldest Black-owned newspapers, The Miami Times, I helped my staff bring home the NNPA’s highest honor – Publication of the Year, 2001. That same year I picked up first and second place awards for news and feature writing, respectively, also from the NNPA.

Today I’m based in the nation’s capital where I’m honored to serve as the editor for The Washington Informer. Recognizing the importance of education, I’ve earned two master’s degrees from Emory University, Summa Cum Laude and Princeton Theological Seminary, majoring in theology and philosophy.

If I can slow down, I may actually complete and publish a collection of essays I’ve been working on for many years, “Growing up Motown,” sharing childhood memories of experiences with musical legends like Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston, the Four Tops, the Miracles, Gladys Knight and Take Six. My favorite foods: spinach, lasagna, pancakes and Oysters Rockefeller. My mom, 86, always my “best friend” and “cheerleader,” now lives with me and she brings me great joy. I’m a fiercely protective yet encouraging father and grandfather always down for traveling, shopping or celebrating the natural beauty of God’s world. I live by the following words: “Less is more” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

You can reach me on Twitter (@dkevinmcneir), Facebook (Kevin McNeir) or via e-mail, mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com

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